Category Archives: men and women

“Hey. Hey-Hey. Hey. Hey-Hey. HEY! I’M GOOD!”

I was studying the faces of passengers on a downtown-bound subway the other night, and I thought:  Surely, these people had to be good.  Because I would much rather subscribe to the idea that the world was primarily filled with good people.  And I myself — would much rather be good, too.

(And I remember there was a man once who told me to never start a sentence with an “and”.  And I didn’t listen.  Obviously.)

I have nearly forgotten what it’s like to people-watch.  Unless on a rare occasion of some public gathering in LA-LA, one must always keep the eyes on the road.  Here, we drive, we speed; and we complain if we aren’t moving fast enough.  All the other people become mere faces which we quickly glaze over, behind the wheels of other cars, at stop signs and in the oncoming traffic:

Everyone keeps their eyes on the road.  Or on their cellphones, in the passenger seat.

Sometimes, I watch the faces reflected in my rearview mirror.  And every once in a while, I steel a gaze or a nod from the guy over in the next lane.  And that’s kind of nice.   It’s good.

 

(And I do remember:  There was a man once who told me to never start a sentence with an “and”.  And I didn’t listen.  Obviously.  And I am glad — that I didn’t.)

The accidental faces of pedestrians tend to zoom by us.  We aren’t used to them around here, unless driving through a rare public space expected to be packed with tourists.  Yet, even then, we avoid making eye contact with them, as if these people — who are most likely good — are nonexistent.  Instead, we nervously watch the quickly expiring gap to make a turn over a pedestrian walkway.  And if the guy on foot isn’t moving fast enough, we pretend not to see him and cut in front.  (Ah, shit!  What an inconvenience!)

Some pedestrians have a certain swagger around here.  They tend to live in those rare occasional spaces expected to be packed with tourists.  As locals, they tend to take their time crossing the street.  Ballsy, they make an eye contact with us, as if saying:

“What cha gonna do?  Run me ova’?!”

So, you wait, embarrassed at having caught yourself at being less than good.  And to avoid that shameful stare, you look over at your cellphone in the passenger seat.

The best thing is to wait.  Sometimes, the guy waves you over.  He’s moving on foot, and he knows he is not fast enough.  Because even when we are on the road (while not always keeping our eyes on it), we often wish to be miles ahead.  Around here, we are overwhelmed by the commitments that we continue negotiating on our cellphones in the passenger seat.

Here, we drive.  We speed.  LA-LA — is a working city, primarily.  Sometimes, we pretend to fit our lives in between; but most of us have come here to work.  And sometimes, we tend to forget that the world is still primarily filled with good people.  And that, no matter the work, we ourselves would much rather be good, too.

(And I do remember:  There was a man once who told me to never start a sentence with an “and”.  And he also told me that not everyone — was good.  And I didn’t listen.  Obviously.)

This middle-aged Mexican woman napping, with her tired head leaned against an anti-terrorism warning:  Surely, she’d put in a good day of work.  And surely, she had to be good!

The man in a construction worker’s overalls:  He looked like the guy stuck in our traffic for the entirety of his working day.  His already dark skin was filled with dust, exhaust — and exhaustion.  Because of his work, at some typical non-public space in LA-LA, there was probably more congestion on the road today.  And he watched us driving, speeding by, wishing to be miles ahead.

The businessman in a suit that lacked the sheen of a designer label:  He was staring down and a few feet ahead — in a New York subway fashion — and he wouldn’t steal as much as a gaze at a pretty girl who got on at the City College stop, at Santa Monica and Vermont.

And the pretty girl who got on at the City College stop:  Under her arm she carried a thick tome of some nursing book I myself would find impossible to decipher.  I wondered what made her choose the goodness of her future profession.  And what made her choose to be good.

And surely, these other people — on the way home from their days of good work — had to be good, too!

Because I would much rather subscribe to the idea that the world was primarily filled with good people. 

And I myself — would much rather choose to be good, too.

“Life Is a Beach — I’m Just Playin’ in the Sand”

Ah, kittens.  I have been watching you, playing in twos, every time I get myself out to the beach.

There is something very honest about humanity out here.  It’s dialed down, calm.  Quiet.  Everyone is hushed down by the magnificent tongue of the Ocean; and you better be painfully exhibitionist — uncomfortable, in skin and silence — to be louder than the waves.  (But I had seen those types before as well:  They make me move my towel, as if switching subway cars to avoid the destructively insane and the painfully lonely.)

I have been running away, out here, to fall asleep on the sand until the magnificent tongues of the Ocean lick my feet with the aftertastes of the opposite shore where, several decades ago, I was born.  Out here, I have been running to get a better glimpse of humanity, a more complimentary view of it.  Out here, I have been running away from the dusty hills and the heated asphalt of my neighborhood, just so I can sit on my ass and pick the shrapnel out of my last battle wounds.

But it’s fine!  It’s fine where I’m living.  It’s perfectly fine.

Here, between the mountains on one side and the downtown skyline on the other — and the apocalyptic clouds of smog all around, as pink as cotton-candy-flavored ice — I cannot see the bloody horizon.  And that’s fine too:  because it keeps me bolted down to my chair, in the midst of work, to which there is no end in sight — to which there is no horizon.  But it’s fine!  It’s perfectly fine, where I’m living.  For now.

But when it chokes, when it moves in and looms above — this lack of knowing as to what it’s all for; when I cannot defeat the despair with mere discipline, I run away.  I cannot run far, for there is indeed a limit to this city — an actual edge.  And I cannot run away from the work, to which there is no end in sight:  no bloody horizon.  But just for a day, I can run away and I can watch them kittens play in twos, in the sand; and I can let the giant dog of the Ocean tickle my feet with its magnificent tongue.

Yesterday, he was brown and very manly; athletic but in that stocky wrestler sort of way.  Even when he stood above the body of his lovely, he seemed to be hanging close to the ground, hovering.  And she:  She stretched and purred underneath him — a caramel-colored kitten, in a two-piece bathing suit of mismatching colors.  Her head was wrapped with a scarf, and its edges coming undone tangled up in the loose hair at the top of her neck.

The two of them had pitched their burgundy cotton sheet just a few meters south of my ass, and like me, they immediately got quiet.  He stretched out on his stomach, she — on her back; and although they spoke little — hushed down by the magnificent tongue of the Ocean — their every gesture was filled with tenderness and certain intimacy that only lovers well-acquainted with each other’s bodies can have.  Without looking over for her target, she would throw her perfectly carved leg over him; and he would reach and caress it with the tips of his fingernails.  (Sometimes, poetry is written on the inside of a woman’s thigh.)

At one point, in between my nap sessions, I pitched myself up on my elbows and saw that she had climbed on top of him, her stomach perfectly contouring his lower back; and there seemed to be no grander bliss that he could be subjected to.  And when she unleashed her wet curls from underneath the head scarf and covered his head, absentmindedly, habitually, he reached up and buried his giant hand in them:  He knew her, so well.  And oh, how well, he loved her!

This juxtaposition of their physique, the intimate tangling of their bodies filled me with something so serene, I nearly forgot that I had ran away out here, to pick the shrapnel out of my last battle wounds.

A few more meters down from our congregation, there rested an older couple.  She belonged to the type of a handsome woman that had managed to defeat her age with sport and boyish haircuts.  When she strutted toward the hissing, foaming, teasing waves, her back astonished me with its tautness and form.  He was watching her as well.  Between the two of them, he seemed to have done all the aging on their behalf.  Balding and under the influence of gravity, he sat on their towel and he worshiped her.  Every time she granted him an over-the-shoulder glance — he waved at her, boyishly.  And although, like me, and like the two brown people south of my ass, the two older lovers were quiet:  Oh, how he loved her, he seemed to say, with silence.  It spoke volumes:  How he loved her!

I would check out again, drifting into dreamless sleep that would leave me thirsty and teary-eyed.  And when I jolted myself awake, I heard the hollow heartbeat of a ping-pong ball:  Above my head, a couple of young lovers were sending each other running — across the sand and across distances that seemed to be unaffected by mutual fear (for, surely, neither has been hit with shrapnel yet).

Besides her occasional giggles, they would remain completely quiet.  Every time, she couldn’t strike back on time, she would run toward the ball, giggling; and he would play with the strings of his swimming trunks — and he would watch her, in silence.  There were beginnings of manhood in that gaze:  the self-esteem of someone with a beautiful physique and a gentle heart, who would never have to work hard for a girl’s love.  And there would be other girls — certainly! — for any life is treasured more once hit with shrapnel.  But in that moment, in that particular silence, he seemed to speak volumes of his love — for her.

Oh, how he liked her!  And how he loved!

Pretty. Little. Liar.

“Because there are enough lies in life, 

so you better be in control of your own fiction.” 

“But I didn’t know that I loved her!  Not after she left!”

The night before, this man had challenged me to a writerly duel:  to commemorate a story of a woman whose departure he regretted the most, in his life.  He slouched on a high chair outside of a club filled with pretty honeys galore.  With his black, dense Persian hair in a cloud from his own cigarette, he hung that head low, frowned, avoiding my eyes, and confessed his loss of that one woman — the one that every man must have in order to become a man; the one that has changed his heart, for good — for the better! 

The following day, after my words had been published, he rang me up immediately, to justify his truth.  He must’ve sobered up a bit:

“You wrote that I loved her!” he objected to my story, seemingly irritated.

“Didn’t you?”

“I mean, well, I did.  I did!  I did, but I didn’t know I did.  I didn’t know I did until, you know, she left me.”

Oh, c’mon!  Don’t give me this shit!

It was my turn to be irritated.  The truth, in actuality, was a lot more brutal than I made it sound:  “A first lesson in the fragility of love and the preternatural cowardice of men” (Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao).  In my writing, I had been forgiving to his one crucial fault, never calling him any low name, never scolding for the lapse of his better nature.  Yes, I would side with the woman — that one, that good one, like me! — that has changed his heart for the better.  For good!  On behalf of her truth, I had written that day’s rant blog; even though she had left long ago, in pursuit of an even better truth.  On behalf on her truth and of my own, I’d spoken — because I too had just left a man that “did and did, and didn’t know, didn’t know he did”.  Fuck you, I thought:  It’s MY fiction!

“But you wrote he was all that — ‘holding his own’,” another reader — my brother who’d always changed me for good, for the better — was saying soon after my own break-up.

I had rung him voluntarily, for some truth; because I had been digging around for it, desperately.  Perhaps he would know, I thought, what had gone wrong in my love, before I left it.  Perhaps, he could’ve seen the signs while its truth was still happening.

“Well, truthfully,” my brother confessed, “he didn’t.  He did NOT ‘hold his own’.”

Brutal.

But fuck you, I thought:  My lover was MY fiction.  How else was I supposed to be in love — but all in, despite the other player’s truths, more obvious to others than to me?  Yes, we all do this:  We fall in love with the wrong people, ignore the signs, go out on the limb and lose ourselves; only to go scrambling for truth later.  And yes, I had done it again — for love, for good.  For the better. 

Sometimes, the choice is clear:  To alter the truth to fit the story.  Other times, the split between truth and actuality is not even visible.  Because the truth — is a matter of an experience.  It’s an opinion.  Because no artist creates for the sake of THE truth — we create for the sake of OUR truth.  The way we see it, perceive it (and it’s all very specific):  The way.  The truth.  Happens.  To US.

So, last night, when I got inside an elevator with three middle-aged men breathing down my neck — and down my backless dress — I gave jack shit about their truth.  They could’ve been in town and in this fancy hotel for a vacation with their families.  They could’ve been each in the midst of their very happy marriages, with healthy kids in college and their own college sweethearts sleeping dreamily in their beds that they wouldn’t have to make in the morning, for a change.  They could’ve been sweet and clumsy — good men slightly discombobulated by the presence of my brazen sexuality and of that goddamn backless dress.

They could’ve been, but last night — they weren’t!  All three rode down with me, from the Penthouse to the garage, and they flirted, unapologetically:

“Come on in,” one of them held the doors, waiting for me to join them.  “You’re in for some trouble!”

“Am I?”

The doors closed.  It was just the four of us:  Me, in my goddamn backless dress, and three middle-aged men in the midst of their dissatisfactory marriages, in town for their conferences, their infidelity, on the hunt to satisfy their mid-life crises.  (See how it’s done?)

“We’ve been watching you all night,” another one said.  I wasn’t sure which one of them was speaking; because for the entire ride down, I would be facing out, giving them the full view of my exposed back — and not a sliver of fucking hope!

“Have you?” I said over my shoulder, turning my head just far enough to be seen, but not far enough to see.

“We have!  We have!” the third one chimed in, spraying me with his drool.  “You were texting viciously on your phone and crossing and uncrossing those long legs of yours.”

“Was I?”  I had decided to give them as little as I possibly could.  But then there was that goddamn backless dress!

“You were…” one lingered, and I could feel the shivers of disgust bounce down my spine like pearls of a broken necklace.

“You were doing a little Sharon Stone act.”

They laughed.  Brutal.

Yes, these men could’ve been sweet and clumsy — good men, slightly discombobulated by my presence.  But TRUTH be told:  They weren’t!  And I had already forgiven them for their faults.  I hadn’t called them by some low names, scolding them for the lapses of their better nature.  But I was sure that they would reappear in my words — my fucking fiction! — and I wouldn’t even need to alter the truth to fit the story.

“But you wrote…”

Just a few weeks ago, my own former scorned lover would ring me up and give me a laundry list of all the untruths he had to object to.  But truth be told:  Fuck you, I thought!  My life — is MY fiction! 

This Is a Man’s World. This Is a Man’s World. But…

“You’ve gone completely boy crazy!” a former male lover scolded me last night.  “Even I would make a better lesbian than you these days!”

Yah.  Maybe.

But then, excuse me… ahem:  What’s that part called?  That part on a man’s lower torso, right at his hip joints?  That V of a muscle cave that slides under the wide band of his underwear and down to his crotch, like an arrow commanding for a yield?

Don’t get me wrong:  I adore women.  Worship them.  To me, there is no higher aesthetic — no better divinity to obey — than the curves of the female nude.  And the way they are all soft, malleable to the touch, each one entering the space like a foaming wave, with its indistinguishable yet very detailed aromas:  It makes you want to grab a pen or a brush, or an empty sheet of music.  Suddenly, you wish for talents that just aren’t in your nature.  You want to name things about a woman; but so busy is your mind soaking her up, so breathlessly humbled you are when she soaks you — you fear wasting a single minute on letting the mind depart in search of the right words and, god forbid (Shiva forbid!), lose her.

I watched a boy do that to me the other night.  LA-LA was still in its San Franciscan mood — something he “did NOT sign-up for!” when he moved here six months ago — but as I shivered in the fog, hiding behind my frizzy hair and wrapping myself in the wide bottom of my gypsy skirt on a very San Franciscan street of my neighborhood, he couldn’t stop talking.  Name that tune!  Name that perfume!  Name it!

“I’ve never seen a purple skirt like this before — this much purple!”

“What exactly is the color of that feather earring peeking through your hair?”

“That’s one unusual jacket!”

The darling boy-child was overwhelmed:

“You are…” — he kept saying, then lingering for the next big adjective he could remember from his undergrad.

But they don’t teach you the swagger of a man back in college:  How to approach the unpredictable nature of a woman; how to size her up, then seize her with the exact words she’s been dying to hear since the beginning of her sex.  When and how to touch her, how to hold her down without crushing or offending; without letting her slip down and in between your fingers.  Where to tap.  Which buttons to push.  How to make her breathless or wild.  How to unleash her humidities, to let her want to soak you.  How to make her stay.

So, my dear boy-child struggled, visibly; working overtime to memorize and to decipher — to possibly impress — not even knowing that by the mere choosing of him that night, I already found him enough.

“You are…” — and he searched my face, my collar bone and the modest canyon between my breasts with those dark eyes he’d inherited from the other hemisphere, while unconsciously chewing on his lower lip.  (I could make a meal of that thing!)

But while he lingered, I too found myself devouring his youth.  The long-sleeved, slate-gray henley shirt with just the two top buttons undone clung to his shapely chest; and all I could do to keep myself from reaching across the table was to rewrap my shivering body in “this much purple” of a skirt.  I could see the swelling of his pecs underneath, and I suspected that the tautness and the give of him was a testament to his youth and regiment.  He was still in the midst of figuring out his own shape, his style — of coming into his own; but it would take a love affair with a woman — a woman with an experience for pushing his buttons — to learn about how this whole thing he’d inherited worked.

And he stood so tall!  (I love that, about men.  The way they can hold their ground, with all that body mass; some with a very laid-back grace, others — with an adorable apology for taking-up so much space.)  When the boy-child walked me home that night, I measured myself up against him, and while still shivering, took the liberty of figuring out how I could fit into his side, for the first time ever.  I looked for my nook — an intimate invasion along the body of a man I have not yet explored.  This way?  Or maybe, if I put my head here and catch my hand on his back pocket?  Or, can I push my hip against his upper thigh and balance in his stride?  While I adjusted and nudged; moved, shifted, and held onto, my hand slid along his lower stomach.  I rested there, studied it:

Excuse me, but… ahem:  What’s this part called?  This part — this V — on a man’s lower torso, right at his hip joints?  This groove leading to my life-long addiction?

But then again, this is the very first chapter of my life in which such open admiration of his kind has started.  I’ve begun to admire men’s shapes, not just conquer them.  I’ve started examining their skin, like some curious continents, with histories I no longer flippantly dismiss due to my own anger, or angst, or pride.

“Where is this scar from?”

“This beauty mark, above your lip:  How long have you had it?”

Name that tune!  Name that scent!  Name it!

I find them funny, charming and intense; childlike — wonderful! — with having to give me what my worship of women cannot.  Suddenly, in the company of men, I’ve begun to rest.  Because for the very first time, they are — enough:  Good enough and then some.  They are enough, for me — yet so differently magnificent! — especially when they are sufficient, in their own skin.

But, still.  Ahem…  What IS that part called?  That part, on a man’s lower torso, running parallel to his hip joints, but then detouring to heaven?  What IS — that V?  Name it.

Keep Your Pants On! Seriously.

O-kay!  Let’s just have it all out now, shall we?  Some broads — come with a past.

A huge past with multiple mistakes and redemptions.  The type of a past that often makes them fascinating, mysterious, and desirable to the other gender; and inspiring to their own.  She is that broad who is often flocked by male companions; whose lovers remain friends and whose friends wouldn’t mind a toss or two in between her sheet.  Getting a light in roomful of strangers for her long cigarette requires a single gesture:  perhaps, an eyebrow raise, or a parting of her lips.  She knows the power of her hair flip and the ability to regulate traffic — and to save hearts — with the shape and extension of her leg.  Typical to the feminine fashion, she may not know what she wants exactly, in the moment; but once she does — she knows very well how to get it.

Oh, she is fantastic!  Seemingly, she’s tried everything and would often surprise you with unusual skills, like spitting fires or riding tigers.  Or a stick shift.  Or a tractor and a tank.  She makes for a phenomenal traveling companion; because even if her standards of living have been raised high, she can easily let them go for the sake of an adventure.

Her style — has been tested for years.  She lives in her garbs, not just wears them.  They are her second skin.  Clothes are meant to have fun with — or be taken off.  Her scarves turn into blouses; skirts — into dresses; sarongs — into head wraps; and she always wears killer pants.  She is the one with the closet full of men’s dress shirts — small mementoes of her loves — and she can twist your mind with desire when she shows up to your bedroom in nothing but a raincoat.

The maintenance of her needs — hygienic, spiritual and financial alike — has been her own responsibility.  So, she will never burden a man with seeking solutions.  She needn’t be rescued, don’t you worry about her:  She’s got it covered, in spades!  Now, secretly she may wish to be cared for — by a failed parent or a capable partner — but you’d never know it until she’s down with a stomach flu or a broken ankle.  And I bet you, even then she’ll feed you her routine of:

“I’m fine, I’m fine.  Forget about it:  I’m fine!”

But being a power broad comes with tremendous consequences.  Any human existence filled with self-examination and high standards causes a few discomforts on the part of its witnesses; because it is hard to keep up with those in pursuit of personal perfection, isn’t it?  First of all, people with fascinating lives can be painfully annoying to the rest of us, because they reminds us not only of our failures but of our lapses in our own pursuits.

“Who the fuck does she think she is?!” some of us may wonder.  “What is she:  Invincible?”

Probably not, but her failures have not stopped her.  She will be the first to admit to her fuck-ups (and she won’t even cover them up with a diplomatic excuse of “a lesson learned”).  But somehow, she hadn’t lost the view of the big picture; so despite the detours and the surmounted losses, she is still seemingly well on her way.

To others, she may be inspiring (especially if she can downplay her power with “just being SO nice!”)  But even then, she doesn’t seem to aspire to that.  Because her friendships have been tested for years; and she’s learned that her true friends don’t give a flying fuck as to what she does with her life, as long as she is happy.  So, seeking their approval hasn’t been on the list of her needs in a long while.  As for others, if they want a piece of her — she’s down with it.  She will choose the ones to mentor, but as far as “inspiration” goes, she’ll leave that in the hands — and eyes — of her beholders.

O-kay!  Shall we continue having it all out now?

Here, we can all agree that a power broad’s dating life — will be painful.  But then again, it is painful for most of us, right?  Yes.  Hers, however, will be struck with an obvious loneliness, because her dating pool has been diminished by her pursuits, and not many partners can keep up with those.  Had she been a man, of course, her desirability factor would shoot through the roof; because “powerful men attract women, powerful women repel men”.

“Who the fuck do you think you are:  spewing out such generalizations?!” some of you may wonder.

Actually, I’m not the one spewing them out.  Last night, while hanging out on the couch of my Bohemian brother in a cloud of an apple-spiced hookah, I came across this lovely bit here, in the good ole New York Times:

When It Comes to Scandal, Girls Won’t Be Boys.

Inspired by the recent Twitter scandal of a one inventive politician (although not so, when it came to metaphors), the piece was dedicated to badly behaving male public figures.  Although never in the mood for sex scandals, even I haven’t been able to ignore the recent missteps by the few politicians unable to keep their hormones from affecting their ethics (or even, their common sense of judgement).  And yes, the Times bit particularly focused on why women rarely find themselves in such predicaments:

“Female politicians rarely get caught up in sex scandals. Women in elective office have not, for instance, blubbered about Argentine soul mates (see: Sanford, Mark); been captured on federal wiretaps arranging to meet high-priced call girls (Spitzer, Eliot); resigned in disgrace after their parents paid $96,000 to a paramour’s spouse (Ensign, John);  or, as in the case of Mr. Weiner, blasted lewd self-portraits into cyberspace.”

And so, along with the Times pontificator Sheryl Gay Stolberg, I found myself wondering last night about the reasons for such an obvious statistic.  Still, as at the time of every one of these scandals, I wasn’t tempted to wag my finger at the male politicians:  I come from a collectively horny nation — and family; so passing judgements would make me look like a hypocrite.  But that is the very reason that a broad like me would never run for an office, in the first place.

Because you see, I AM that woman with a past; and that past comes with consequences.  I would never want for my fuck-ups (NOT “lessons learned” by the way!) to resurface and tarnish the dignity of my beloveds — or of my political party.  I surely still want to create change in this world, but I just might have to do it via my career as an entertainer, a writer, or a philanthropist — but NOT a politician!

The Times journalist seems to agree:

“Women have different reasons for running,” she writes, “are more reluctant to do so and, because there are so few of them in politics, are acutely aware of the scrutiny they draw — all of which seems to lead to differences in the way they handle their jobs once elected.”

Last night, I decided to leave it to the big dogs to pontificate on the gender-related statistics and differences.  In the mean time, while I continue to aspire to my personal perfections and altruistic objectives (some of which are indeed drawn from my rich past), I must surrender to my own consequences:   my very limited dating life; the loss of acquaintances to their judgement and fear; and the departure of my suddenly repelled male companions while I give ’em all my routine of “I’m fine, I’m fine!  Forget about it:  I’m fine!”  But such is the pickle of life, ain’t it:  A man or a woman is free to make choices, but it is consequences of those choices that make a man — or a woman.

“Have You No Sense of Decency?”

Sirens.  They are so much louder in this city, it seems; louder than anywhere else. (And I’ve heard my share, trust me.  I hate it.)

They are louder than in that other place I keep procrastinating returning to, regardless of its coordinates as the Center of the Universe (because I haven’t paid my dues here yet, you see).  But then, these police hollers are not as as loud as those other things, up in my neighborhood’s sky every bloody night, shooting down searchlights into a zip code that shoots searchlights back up at it, from every douchy new joint that won’t last.

Nothing really lasts, it’s true.  But LA-LA has a special talent for transience.

Everybody despises it here, at least at one point or another.  It’s what this city is here for, don’t cha know?  This poor, used-up girl!

When I think of LA-LA’s face, I think of a woman, of course; of someone who is moderately pretty and lovable, but with time.  She is the girl one settles for, not the heartbreaker perfectly dressed at all times who ruins a man’s heart with her impossibility and expensive, addictive perfumes.  No, LA-LA is much simpler than that:  She is there, for the taking — if one is kind enough and patient.  But if ever you decide to break-up with her, she’ll let you go so freely you’ll wonder if she ever even loved you at all.  So, the joke’s on you, really.  And no matter where the departed go from here — from her — don’t you worry:  She’ll be fine.  She’ll still be here, for the next guy.

The natives (who are in the minority here, because the minorities — are not):  They despise the newcomers.  And there are plenty of those, every day climbing off their Greyhounds and shuttles; interrogating their cabbies as if they were tour guides.  (I would hate to be a cabdriver in this city:  too many flights.)  It’s endless, this influx of dreamers.  Perpetual.  THANK GOD.

And then, the newcomers despise not being important enough, not quickly enough.  Back in the pond where they’ve come from, they used to be so beloved:  How dare you not know their name?!  Or maybe, they weren’t loved enough, and they’ve come here to avenge themselves.  Regardless:  They have yet to learn that LA-LA doesn’t give a damn about their personal agendas.  Here, time is made of liquid rubber (and it stinks equally).  It takes time to make a name for yourself (even if you’ve come here with a name).  But first, you have to make a living — and a life.

The beautiful girls, of which LA-LA has plenty:  The beautiful girls who lose their beauty here — that’s what they hate this city for.  They would’ve wasted their youth elsewhere, it’s true; but then, it least, it would’ve gained them something.

I bumped into one of them the other day:  She’s been paying her dues for six years now, just like me; and after endless auditions and plenty of cocktail waitressing, she’s finally earned herself an Under-Five on a some show about Hollywood douche bags.

“Congratulations, love,” I said.  “Where to next?”

“HOME.  I’m going home.”

The young, heartbreaking boys with low expectations and a high tolerance for deprivation; who sleep in cars in between apartments (because it makes for a great story, once they’re famous) — they think they don’t need love around here.  They can do without it, for now:  They’ve got time.  But when they learn that time is made of liquid rubber, randomly, they start poking around.  Poking themselves into any moderately pretty girl who’ll pay attention after enough drinks — and attention.  All this random poking into loveless girls — that’s their beef with this city.

“No offense,” one of them shot me a stare the other day as if I were the one offending him.  “But there are no decent women here.”

I rebutted quickly and well (I’ve had practice, you see).  He laughed, changed his mind (was I worthy of a poke?), and asked me if I had “anything on me”.

“Anything on me?”

“Don’t cha like to have some fun?” he said; then, shot me another spiteful stare.  I was just another dumb bitch, who, at least, had the decency to be decent.  But he wasn’t after decency, really.

Oh, we’ve all had a share of mistakes here; have fallen prey to douches and scams.  But that’s okay.  Silly mistakes are okay.  Just don’t be stupid.  LA-LA is too small of a town for stupidity, because somebody knows somebody else.  The word gets around.

Here, you’re always supposed to know a Somebody:  Knowing a Somebody gets you closer to your own Somebody-ness. So, you hang on to the few famed ones, drink up from their expensive pool, up in the hills.  You memorize the names of their siblings and pretend liking their dogs, just so one day you may say to somebody, over pizza:

“That’s my friend:  Somebody!”  And you all stare at the face blown up on the screen and feel like you’re ever so closer to having paid your own dues.

And every once in a while, an actual friend of yours — not just a Somebody but a comrade-in-arms — books something big.  (This must be the reason why I myself love pilot seasons in LA-LA.)  And it’s wonderful.  Oh, how wonderful!  THANK GOD.  And if you haven’t lost the ability for compassion to your own sense of despair, you feel thrilled for her.  Because it also means there is still hope; that dreams are not forsaken, in LA-LA.

But then, your friend leaves.  If she doesn’t leave for another city, she leaves for a different demographic.  You may still have a chance to hang out at her expensive pool, up in the hills; sitting next to the next transient guy, despising this city:

LA-LA has a special talent for transience.  But at least, you have a chance to cash in your own big check (after enough time and patience; dues and poking around).  And if you’re still with it — at your turn for Somebody-ness — it’ll get you closer to your next dream.  Or the next city.

“Love Dries Up, I Thought — Even Faster Than Sperm”

Settle down, lovelies!  Settle down!  I didn’t write that line above (although I wish I did).

Behold:  The genius of C. Bukowksi exactly the man to keep me company last night, in bed. 

Which, by the sound of him, is where he best belonged in life:  Under the sweat-soaked sheets, with some well-lived-in broad (behold:  me) who had the potential to be brilliant; and who every once in a her saddest while, lived up to that potential.  But all other times, she bounced between being brutal and angelic, and maybe a lil’ bit childlike.

Yeah.  C. and I could’ve had some fun!  That poignant alcoholic who on paper insisted sounding like a bastard!  Was he, indeed?  Or was he, like me, bouncing between being brutal and… well, something else.

“R u home?” I got interrupted by a text from an ex, at around midnight.  A text from an ex — seeking sex?  But I already had a man in bed:  C.  Period.

But why be rude, I thought, and I responded:  “Yep.”

“Want me 2 come over?”  (I pondered:  Could I be in the mood for some sex with an ex?)

“I’m in bed, with my lites off.”  I half-lied.  Apparently:  I wasn’t in the mood.

“Well get dressed and turn your lites ON!”

Oh.  So it wasn’t about sex!  The ex was concerned.  Earlier in the day, I remembered he asked me about my head:  He knew how that fucking thing got, all messy ‘n’ shit, post break-up.  After all, he’d seen me handle his own departure, three years ago.

This ex-player always had a talent to be rougher than most.  Not mean, just stronger.  The most assertive I’ve ever had.  On the phone and in bed, he always he treated me like a handful, but never a pain in the ass, acting as if he would rather do nothing else but figure me out.  He left though — surprise, surprise! — after a couple of months of such riddle solving.

“Timing,” he said at the time.  (Funny:  That’s the same explanation I got from this latest guy.)

So, I thought of all the voices in my head that get set off by a man’s departure.  Between brutal and angelic I usually bounce, grappling with the worst, darkest thoughts — just so I could come out on top, illuminated by grace:  On top, just the way I like it.  The departed are rarely made privy to the brutality of my head, because I never want to be “that girl”:  Name-calling her formerly beloved — or her beloved still! — and destroying whatever bits of beauty remained in the post-break-up’s ground zero; only to find herself not living up to HER better self.  I exorcise my own head, in private.  That way, years down the road, after other women, my players will always think:

“But Vera was kinder than most.”  (Settle down, lovelies:  I didn’t write this line either.  C. Bukowski did.  Period.)

These voices:  Every woman gets them.  And because of the privilege I’ve earned via kindness and empathy, I’ve listened to other broads’ voices before:  Name-calling their exes, damning them to never be loved again, suddenly taking for granted the reasons for which they loved those poor bastards in the first place.  Sometimes, they wonder about where they themselves have gone wrong.  But that’s too brutal, you see, so they lash out at the guy again.

Here are just a couple of these gems, for your viewing, my lovelies:  A couple of those brutal voices — and, in return, my now habitual responses to them.  Because I’ve spent the night with C. Bukowski, you see.  That poignant alcoholic knows no lullabies.  So, I ain’t really in the mood for angelic right now:

—  “What an asshole!”  

That’s the most reoccurring voice from my girls, when they lash out at the man they’ve just finished adoring five minutes ago.  Sometimes, the name varies, depending on my girls’ demographics.  And oh how they expect me to echo that name of choice — but I don’t!  I SHALL NOT.

Instead, my rebuttal is — always:  He may be that, my ladies.  He may be that (insert a name according to the girl’s demographic). But chances are that, like you, he is just one hurtin’ mother fucker, trying to get through the chaos of life the best way he can.

—  “He doesn’t deserve me!”  

I’ve made it quite obvious that I am a fan of my own gender.  But regardless the accusations by a slew of haters this year, I don’t always side with it.  I do try my very, very best to see both points of view.  I’m brutal and angelic that way, ‘member?

But “deserve” is a funny word.  Not “funny” funny, but reeking of hubris — of taking the place of divinity.  And it is my personal belief that one’s divinity should only be applied when striving for one’s own best potential.  It CANNOT be practiced on others. It is too brutal that way.

So, what I tell my girls (and myself, in this state of lapsed graces) is this:  May be.  He may be an undeserving man.  But instead of waiting for someone else to step-up, why not give YOURSELF what you think you deserve?

(Most of the time, my girls’ response to that is, “I don’t know how to do that…”  Sad, ain’t it?  But that’s a discussion for another day.)

No one will ever love him the way I did!”  (SHIT:  Speaking of brutal.)

May I just say, ladies:  I hate this one!  As someone who’s been on the receiving end of that line, I cannot think of the most absolute way of erasing the love that preceded the break-up.  Because a thought like that betrays your own twisted intensions.  During the love affair, you may not have loved unconditionally — but for the sake of your own validation; and just how fucked up is that?  Not fucked up, but perfectly human.  But I do know — but you can do better than that.  YOU CAN BE — BETTER THAN THAT.

“And who the fuck do you think you are — to predict another person’s life?”  (Oops.  I think I just spoke directly to the ex who damned me with that same line.  “What an asshole!”)

All said and done, my lovelies:  Lovers come and go.  That’s their very purpose, you see.  During an affair, whatever your trip may be — that’s the trip they take with you.  That’s the trip they teach you.  But there are no better lessons — no better tests of your own character — when these lovers depart.  For in that seemingly most brutal stretch of days, they teach you your own worth.  Your grace.  Your personal divinity.

That way, years down the road, after other women, your players will think:

“she has hurt fewer people than

anybody I know, 

and if you look at it like that,

well, 

she has created a better world.

she won.”

(Settle down, my lovelies.  I didn’t write that line either.  That’s my C.  Period.)

“Cali’s Where They Put the Mack Down.” DO They?

Okay, my New Yorkers:  Avert your eyes here.  I’m gonna bitch a lil’:

Where the fuck is my sun, LA-LA?

This tan-o-rexic is seriously freaking out here!  How in the world am I going to carry on with my image of an ethnically ambiguous honey who attracts the gazes of dem white boys and brothers alike, if I let my skin lose the shade I’ve been working on so hard this summer?  Besides, everyone gets a much more mellow version of me after I’ve seared my skin under the cancerous rays.  So, really, my tan — is good for everyone.

(Hmm.  Where is my Not Like button ‘round here?!  Not Like.  Not Like at all, LA-LA!)

As if the life of a single girl in this city wasn’t hard enough!  First of all, everyone in LA-LA, regardless of their occupation, acts as if the entertainment industry is their money-maker.  In order to afford a life in this expensive city, we all work insanely long hours (even and especially those of us who choose to be self-employed); and it takes an equal amount of dedication to we wedge in some sort of a social life in between those 16-hour days that reek of production jobs. 

(For the single ladies on the hunt:  The men who work those bloody production jobs are quite easy to pick-out.  Beware:  They’re overstressed workaholics with quickly graying hair, chronic jitters acquired from serious dozes of caffeine, with a special talent of juggling several mobile devices and alcohol drinks with Red Bull.  They also tend to be overly dramatic when they don’t get the answer they want; because unlike for the rest of us:  Their time.  IS.  Money.)

But when we do get out for the sake of recreational — or procreational — activities, we are confronted with further challenges of this vast city.  No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone’s immediate beef with LA-LA is:  The distance.  Because this city spans for over 500 square miles that include mounts and valleys, ghettoes and beaches.  It can be a pretty mother fucker though; but we all would enjoy the ride a bit more, if it weren’t for the world-famous Los Angeles traffic.  (This traffic, by the way, is the very reason I’ve chosen to be self-employed; because when trying to get to my receptionist gig with its 8:30 in-time a few years back nearly gave me a heart attack and forever ruined my profanity censor.  Oh yes, sire:  Driving in my passenger seat — is not for the weak of heart, or for the tender of ears.)

It takes a special amount of expertise and temper to get to places on time.  But when in pursuit of a social life, one does have a choice to evaluate whether or not the event — or the person — is worth going the distance.  Brutal, ain’t it?  Yep.  I would never say it to a player’s face, but if he resides in the Valley, he and I — are just not meant to be.  Especially with these current gas prices!  Yeah.  Nyet:  I don’t do the Valley.  (I barely do Burbank, yet even then I cringe.)

And don’t even get me started on our City’s parking regulations:  It’s an exercise in deductive reasoning!  I’ve been known to deconstruct those poles with three-to-four plaques about permits and street cleaning and towing zones — for ten mins, easily!  Nowadays, if I’m ever late to a date, I don’t blame it on traffic.  I just roll my eyes and wipe my forehead:

“Phew.  Those parking signs!”

Anyway.  So, say you’ve arrived to your date safely and somewhat on time.  You’ve shared a meal.  The player has walked you to your car (which hopefully has NOT been towed by then).  What do you next?  Ahem (insert an cringe):  Not taking a walk, that’s for sure!  We don’t walk ’round here.  Because there is no better way to attract trouble than taking a stroll in pretty much any neighborhood.  Sure, you could drive yourselves to a park, but there aren’t many of those here either.  Besides, in the eve, most of them become a camping ground for this city’s homeless; and something tells me, you don’t wanna disturb their sleep.  So, why don’t you just grope each other against that safely parked car of yours; then, say, “Night-night,” and drive off while texting sexy messages to each other?  Fun.

With all of these factors considered, dating becomes a tricky and quite a stressful thing in this City of Angels.  But the one thing you cannot do — is leave your plans up in the air.  Because there are way too many factors that can distract both of you and detour your coffee date so far off, you’ll never get to it.

Last night, for instance, a cutie was making plans with me via texting; and oh, how intense he sounded!  (Call me old-fashioned, it would be my personal preference for him to pick-up that same phone and call me.  But then, I’ve lived through so many failed date plans and flaky arrangements, that I wasn’t getting my hopes up in the first place.)  But the player was very persistent — and quite specific:  He established the time, the date, the place AND the duration of our coffee date.  When I cracked a joke at his expense, this LA-LA native texted:

“I may be young, but I’m still a man.  I am very specific about what I like.”

Mkay then!  Sounds like someone’s been thrown for a loop a coupla times in his dating life; but yes, sir!  I’ll see you on Friday, at 17:36 Pacific time, on the South-East corner of Doheny and Sunset.

Now, I don’t want to ruin your party any further, my kittens, but this is not just a matter of my cunty-ranty opinion.  Apparently, official studies have been conducted on the topic of our strife and their conclusion is:  Dating in LA-LA — sucks!

I personally still have some hope, but according to this bit (forwarded to me by a bicoastal comrade), our city is actually the worst for any romantically recreational — or procreational — activities.  Why?  Learn about it:

“Anthropologists have noticed a statistic that correlates nicely with the social and sexual permissiveness of a population.  It’s called the sex ratio — the number of men for every 100 women.  In places where the sex ratio is low (i.e. excess of women over men), social morals are relaxed, women go out a lot, and everyone has a ball.  Where the sex ratio is high (i.e. excess of men), people go out less and attitudes are more conservative.”  

According to this blog — not written by yours cunty-truly, but by a man (!) — LA-LA’s excess of men makes our dating life quite hard to navigate.  (And you’d think that for a single girl this imbalance in sex ratio would be a good thing.  Damn.  Can’t a kitten get a break?)

So, instead of waiting for our now officially sucky dating scene to improve, I personally choose to entertain myself.  Hence:  Where the fuck is my sun, LA-LA?  Seriously.

“Drip-Drop: There Goes a Nerdgasm”

Who be the English major around here?  I be!  I be dat!

I’m a proud lil’ nerd, my babies and kittens!  With my personal library as the only prized possession, I have traveled the world in pursuit of my smarts.

Oh, yes!  I am one of “those” — known to conduct 3-hour debates on comma positioning, who, in her younger days, once wanted to write a bloody dissertation on why em-dashes were better — or more elegant — punctuation marks than parentheses.  And don’t even get me started on e.e. cummings’ syntax and Pinter’s  ellipses!  (Okay, do get me started — but the next time you see me though.  Until then…)

For a proud nerd like V, it has been a source of endless frustration to watch the English language get chronically raped by the laziness of the general public and its beauty quite quickly diminished by the seemingly consensual desire to create shortcuts in our communication.  Well, okay!  On the one hand, technology has expanded our minds, shrunk the size of our world, and sped up the pace of our lives and professions.  But on the other hand, not only has it lowered our ability to communicate well — it has lowered our ability to communicate at all Our friendships, business relationships and love affairs are now dependent on a number of little hand devices that serve as extensions of our egos.  Facebook wall posts have replaced birthday postcards.  Instant messaging has eliminated the treasured experience of hearing a beloved voice on the other end of the phone line.  As for poetry:  It is quite quickly becoming extinct altogether.

Just last night, for instance, at a Hollywood coffee shop filled with hippies and yuppies alike, I watched an angry lil’ man build his case for a lawsuit — via an iPhone and his highly anti-social behavior committed for the sake of… well, a social interaction.  (Say whaaat?!  I KNOW.)  He first caught my attention with the speed of the click-clacking of his iPhone’s texting app which reminded me of the sound of beetles (the bugs, not the Brits).  Or of baby witches.  (Don’t ask:  It’s a Russian thing.)

When joined by his partner — a young corporate shark that despite appearing well-educated refused to adjust her volume — they began composing those texts together.  From what I overheard (I had no choice, really:  the two were so loud, they jolted the head of every focused Mac owner in the joint), some “asshole” had done them wrong and now, via the click-clacking, they were building a case against him.

“Tell him this, tell him this!” the excited young lady was hovering over her chair and pointing at the hand device as if the “asshole” was trapped inside it.  I shot her my askance glance but zero reaction followed.  She continued foaming at her mouth:  “Tell him:  We’ve got EVIDENCE!”

More click-clacking happened, at double speed.

I wondered:  When the skeletons of our era are excavated and studied by the next century’s archeologists, will they find our thumbs overdeveloped?  My second thought was that someone ought to add a Texting Man to that famous drawing of the Evolution of Man.  After all, look at how far we — and our disposable thumbs — have come!  (Now what did I tell you, babies and kittens:  I’m a total nerd!)

“He just fucked himself over!” the young lady was now so excited, she appeared to be dry-humping the edge of her coffee table.  “These texts — can be used as evidence IN COURT!”

Alas:  The Evolution of Man.

Now, as a nerd who revels in language, I’ve never been a fan texting; and only recently have I experienced the titillation of sexting (which involved shagging a much younger player than I would normally go for).  As for the abbreviated lingo invented by the generation of texting — and sexting — children, before I had a chance to say, “WTF?”:  It seemed to have been adopted by the rest of the world as a new universal language.  Shiva knows, it took me three years to start using shorthand in my own texts.  Yet, still, I refuse to “LOL”!  And “OMG”, do I cringe when getting one of those from a man!

In my experience, in this day and age, a male courtier is pretty much off the hook when it comes to composing odes for his woman.  I myself have lowered my expectations quite a bit; and although a well-composed sentence still gives me chills, I am perfectly content with getting my fill of philology from the prized — and above mentioned — personal library.  So, when a man demonstrates a lack of desire to whip out a coupla stanzas in my honor, I go to the men I can rely on:  Messieurs Baudelaire and de Saint-Exupery; Sir Keats and Lord Byron; or, if in a mood for some rougher lovin’ — Mister Bukowski or Comrade Mayakovsky.

However, a player who in his texts spews out abbreviations like a middle school student with bad acne and braces (and most likely, horrendous grades), I’m afraid — and here I speak on behalf of my vagina — I immediately lose all interest.  Yep:  The juices stop flowing.  The factory shuts down until further notice.  The ovaries start picketing.

Now, I myself have yet a lot to learn about the etiquette of texts (their duration and length or the power play of who should be the one to start or end a conversation); but I have made up my mind on the topics of my courtiers’ grammar and syntax.  It goes like this:

Grow up — and use a spellcheck!

Because there are no shortcuts to a woman’s vagina, dear sire!  (Or at least, to any self-respecting woman I know.)  So, please, my dah-ling, please:  Put a lil’ bit of effort when hunting for it.  Do utilize your disposal thumbs and spell out your words.  That way, there will be no confusion as to how you feel about me — or my vagina.

But if patience or grammar is not your strong suit — call me.  When you do, of course, you’ll have to meet a whole other set of standards; but at least you’ll save yourself the embarrassment of not living up to the linguistic standards of the dead men who knew a thing or two about vaginas, hunting and poetry; and how to utilize their thumbs in pursuit of either.

If Angels Must Fall…

Oh boy!  Oh boys, rather!  This shawty woke up ranty in the morn’!

Just for the sake of your wild imaginations, my rougher creatures, I shall confess that in the midst of my sleep today — while naked, with tan lines slowly marking their territory all over my skin — I had a thought.  Well, actually, I had a muscle cramp first, in one of my calves.  It came from marching in 12-inch heels yesterday eve, while strung out with endless pearls and whipping my boys with my askance glances.  But after the cramp passed, the head had a moment of clarity; and then, I tossed my caramel-colored bod into a diagonal angle across the bed, and went back to my dreamin’.  (I don’t have much height on me, so I tend to terrorize every bed I sleep in by assuming the least economical positions.  It’s what I do:  I toss ‘n’ hog.)

The thought was tiny at first:  a lil’ echo from one of my Amazon’s words I read yesternight.  But by the time I awoke — in my bed that looked like a war zone — the thought had grown into a Wild Thing.  It had been hanging onto a plank of my canopy because that was the only space unoccupied by my petite frame; and when I opened my yes, it began swinging above my head in some silly acrobatic act that was suppose to both entertain me and to terrify.

Now as I write, the Wild Thing is still here, running around my single girl’s apartment, rummaging through the drawers of my memories, reshuffling the books of my library in search of inspirations, and braiding my Martha Stewart’s ribbon collection into its hairy body.  It’s demanding my time.  I’ve tried to calm it down with a saucer full of milk ‘n‘ coffee on the tiles of my kitchen floor; but it ain’t having it.  It’s climbed upon the window sill in front of which I rant every morning and proceeded to stick is stubby fingers into a bottle of my honey; and as it started to gnaw on my gypsy earrings and dry-hump my still aching calf, I can ignore it no longer:

“Alright, alright you silly thing,” I pet it funny face.  “What is it?”

And thusly it growls:

“Do you realize the fortune, dear gentlemen, of having the love of a woman?  And if you do, how dare you waste it on your fear, or on some hideous spiel of your ego about your readiness; or a presumptuous idea that if you let that love depart, you’ll be worthy of more of it — and better kind! — in the future?

Does it stroke your egos — and your penises — when you finally get the girl you’ve been chasing?  And if it does, why do you must you daydream about deserving better than what you’ve got?  

And when, due to whatever juvenile bullshit your ego whispers to your mirror reflection during the morning shaving routine, when you break an angel’s heart, does your manhood grow when you watch her weep for the loss of your love?  Do you feel more like a man to have a woman’s tears soak your chest?  And if you do, pray do tell me, does your heart ache for her, in that very moment?

And when your angel finally gathers her belonging and the shards of her broken self-esteem and walks away, does the lingering perfume of her hair make your heart wince with missing her?   

And when another woman breaks your heart by being underserving (karma’s long term memory — is a bitch), do you remember us:  An army of angels who’ve made you better men; and for the risk of having your love, committed themselves to falling?”

Damn, you Wild Thing!  You growl with poetry!

Ow!  And there it goes, onto the next thing.  It’s gotten a hold of my old, tortured flip-phone and started flossing its fangs with it.  I got my hands full with this Thing, so I show it how to work it.  Now, it’s scrawling through the archives of my messages in search of some tender words from my recent lover.

“Oh, he’s gone, my darling,” I respond to the disappointed little face now confronting me, “and so are the messages.”

It whimpers.  I know, baby.  I know.

I take over the phone and download the words that birthed this Wild Thing into being in the first place:  The words from a co-hurting angel who’s been letting me borrow her halo while I healed:

“[Men] must chase, hunt,” she’s written, “and as soon as they feel they’ve caught you, had you totally… sexually, emotionally… as soon as you’re theirs for the taking, they no longer want it.  I fucking hate it, and it terrifies me.”

Amen, my darling.  Such is the sad coincidence in too many tales I’ve overheard from other angels, fallen for the sake of love.

Men must hunt, in pursuit of better opportunities, situations and loves.  In this day and age, they no longer need to do it on women’s behalf, for we are often capable of doing it for ourselves.  But if they must carry-on hunting, how I wish they wouldn’t get greedy — even if only for the sake of their own selves!  Because an angel’s love does not take away their freedom in pursuit of beauty — it opens their hearts to comprehending it.  It forgives the past mistakes of their mothers or resuscitates the futures they may have given-up on due to previous heartbreaks.  So, I wish our glorious men would learn to recognize their angels when they see them — to be wise enough to unload their bows and guns, to land their messy heads upon their bosoms — and to give this whole hunting act a rest.

Shh.  The Wild Thing has fallen asleep, still clutching my useless phone in its paw; and suddenly, it looks like the little thing that woke me in the middle of the night.  There, there, my darling.  There, there.